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Your Next T-Shirt Will Be Made by a Robot

Georgia Tech spin-off SoftWear Automation is developing ultrafast sewing robots that could upend the clothing industry

4 min read
Illustration: MCKIBILLO
Illustration: MCKIBILLO

Sometime later this year, dozens of robots will spring into action at a new factory in Little Rock, Ark. The plant will not make cars or electronics, nor anything else that robots are already producing these days. Instead it will make T-shirts—lots of T-shirts. When fully operational, these sewing robots will churn them out at a dizzying rate of one every 22 seconds.

For decades, the automation of the sewing of garments has vexed roboticists. Conventional robots excel at manipulating rigid objects but are rather inept at handling soft, flexible materials like fabric. Early attempts to automate sewing included treating pieces of cloth with starch to temporarily make them stiff, allowing a robot to manipulate them as if they were steel sheets. This and other approaches, however, never became commercially viable, mainly because the clothing industry has resisted automation by relying on cheap labor in developing countries.

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Medal of Honor Goes to Microsensor and Systems Pioneer

The UCLA professor developed aerospace and automotive safety systems

3 min read
Photo of a man in a blue jacket in front of a brick wall.
UCLA Samueli School of Engineering

IEEE Life Fellow Asad M. Madni is the recipient of this year’s IEEE Medal of Honor. He is being recognized “for pioneering contributions to the development and commercialization of innovative sensing and systems technologies, and for distinguished research leadership.”

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Video Friday: An Agile Year

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

3 min read
Video Friday: An Agile Year

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!):

ICRA 2022: 23–27 May 2022, Philadelphia
ERF 2022: 28–30 June 2022, Rotterdam, Germany
CLAWAR 2022: 12–14 September 2022, Açores, Portugal

Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos.

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Why Multi-Functional Robots Will Take Over Commercial Robotics

Single-task robots will soon make way for multi-application robots of the future

4 min read

By integrating new functional accessories like a disinfection module to its Neo 2 floor-scrubbing robot, Avidbots is transforming it into a multi-purpose robotic platform.

Avidbots

This is a sponsored article brought to you by Avidbots.

The days of having single-purpose robots for specific tasks are behind us. A robot must be multi-functional to solve today’s challenges, be cost-effective, and increase the productivity of an organization.

Yet, most indoor autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) today are specialized, often addressing a single application, service, or market. These robots are highly effective at completing the task at hand, however, they are limited to addressing a single use case. While this approach manages development costs and complexity for the developer, it may not be in the best interest of the customer.

To set the stage for increased growth, the commercial AMR market must evolve and challenge the status quo. A focus on integrating multiple applications and processes will increase overall productivity and efficiency of AMRs.

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